The Arab News all-female team comprises Hala Tashkandi from our Riyadh bureau, Rua’a Al-Ameri from our Dubai bureau and photographer Huda Bashatah from our Jeddah bureau. (AN photo)
Women’s Rights and Labour Activists in the Clerical Regime’s Jails
Nigeria: Female Boko Haram Suicide Bombers Kill 3 in Mafa
Validity of Muslim Women Act Challenged Before Karnataka HC
Feminists Condemn Men’s Remarks about Marrying Kashmiri Women
Chechnya Sends Ex-IS Women into Schools, Not Jails
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Arab News launches Hajj special coverage with all-female team
August 08, 2019
JEDDAH: Arab News today launches its special coverage of Hajj 2019 — with, for the first time, an all-female team on the ground at the holy sites.
Today’s special edition of the newspaper, with a stunning cover-wrap image of the Kaaba, is being distributed to pilgrims at Mina as they begin their spiritual journey.
In tandem with comprehensive coverage in print and online, the Arab News Hajj app for mobile devices is again available as a free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
The app, developed with the support of the Muslim World League, features a digital Qibla compass, a real-time currency converter, Qur’an prayer audio files and live news updates.
This year the app also has an enhanced “pilgrim tracker” function, an optional feature that allows users who activate it to share their location and follow loved ones in real time, round the clock.
For Hajj 2019 our staff will also be distributing Arab News umbrellas; designed for sun protection, they were invaluable last year when Makkah and Madina were deluged with rain. This year, in association with the Makkah Health Affairs General Directorate, the umbrellas will also be distributed to outpatients attending hospital for treatment during Hajj.
The Arab News all-female team comprises Hala Tashkandi from our Riyadh bureau, Rua’a Al-Ameri from our Dubai bureau and photographer Huda Bashatah from our Jeddah bureau.
“It is both amazing and intimidating to know that I have the task of bringing news to the general public, who rely on us to deliver information accurately, quickly and in an entertaining way,” Tashkandi said.
“I hope we can supply new and exciting information to all our readers, from Hajj veterans looking to see how things have changed, to young Muslims soaking up information to prepare for their first Hajj experience, and even curious non-Muslims who just want to know what it is about.”
Al-Ameri, on her first visit to Saudi Arabia, will be focusing on stories with a human interest.
“I am keen to learn about pilgrims’ experiences and share their personal stories on their spiritual journey,” she said.
Bashatah, the photographer, said: “I’m touched and proud to be part of the team as this is my first Hajj journey. I’m even more excited to leave my fingerprint on people’s memories with the photos I take of the pilgrims.”
The initiative for a 50:50 gender-balanced newsroom by 2020 was launched by Arab News editor-in-chief Faisal J. Abbas in 2018, reflecting Saudi Arabia’s drive toward reform and female empowerment. Hajj coverage was a key area for implementing the initiative, Abbas said.
“As the voice of our changing region, and the English-language newspaper of record for Saudi Arabia, Arab News sets the benchmark for reporting on Hajj, and our female staff play a crucial role in that work,” he said.
Women’s Rights and Labour Activists in the Clerical Regime’s Jails
Aug 8, 2019
Two women’s rights activists, Maryam Mohammadi and Esrin Derkaleh, have been moved from the Intelligence Ministry Ward 209 in Evin Prison to the Women’s Ward.
The two women’s rights activists had been active in the field of women’s empowerment and women’s literacy. They spoke on the International Women’s Day to a gathering held by the Voice of Iranian Women’s Association (Neda-ye-Zanan-e Iran) and talked about women as being the main driving force in the protests and also about 40 years of women’s movement in Iran.
In another development, Nasrin Javadi who had been arrested on May 1st demonstrations in Tehran, was summoned to the 26th Branch of Tehran’s Court on Tuesday, August 6, 2019. The court accused her of disrupting public order and of association and collusion against national security, as well as of propaganda against the state.
Simultaneous with the first hearing of those arrested for participating in the protests of Sugar Cane workers of Haft Tappeh, including Asal Mohammadi and Sanaz Allahyari, security forces arrested six student and labor activists who had participated in a gathering outside the court on Saturday, August 3, 2019. Among them was Sahar Shahrabi Farahani, a female labor activist. She is 32, a painter and student of Persian Literature.
Also on Sunday, August 4, 2019, security forces arrested Ms. Raha Ahmadi and took her to an unknown location. Her family has inquired about her whereabouts without any response.
In other news, the case of Saba Kord Afshari, a women’s rights activist presently detained in the notorious Qarchak Prison in Varamin, was examined on Wednesday, August 7, 2019, by the Court of Tehran. The last hearing of the case of her mother, Raheleh Ahmadi, was also held on August 4, 2019.
Saba Kord Afshari was arrested on June 1, 2019, for a second time, and her mother, Raheleh Ahmadi, was arrested on July 10, 2019, and released on bail after a few days.
Nigeria: Female Boko Haram Suicide Bombers Kill 3 In Mafa
AUGUST 7, 2019
Two female suicide bombers killed three civilians and wounded eight in a suspected Boko Haram attack in northeast Nigeria, emergency services said Wednesday.
The twin blasts tore through a crowd late Tuesday, August 6 in the town of Mafa, some 50 km (30 miles) east of regional capital Maiduguri.
“The female bombers killed three people and wounded eight others,” Bello Danbatta, head of security for the State Emergency Management Agency in Borno state, told AFP.
The assailants entered the town among a group of local women who had gone to fetch firewood for cooking, Danbatta said.
Local district spokesperson Adamu Mohammed, who gave the same toll, said the bombers waited until around 8:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) before launching their attack.
The jihadist group known as Boko Haram began its bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, but it has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response. More than 27,000 people have been killed and two million others displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region. The U.S. assesses that Boko Haram and ISWAP have been responsible for over 35,000 deaths since 2011.
Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One, led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in March 2015, but ISIS central only gives formal backing to the other faction, which it calls Islamic State West Africa Province.
Many of the bombers are young women and girls.
The last suicide attack in Nigeria blamed on the Shekau faction was in June when a triple bombing outside a hall in Konduga, 38 km southeast of Maiduguri killed at least 30 people, mostly football fans who were watching a match.
In January, two suspected Boko Haram fighters were killed in operations near Kajeri Maye village in the Mafa district, the army said. It is unclear which faction the militants belonged to.
Validity of Muslim Women Act challenged before Karnataka HC
AUGUST 09, 2019
There was no need for immediate legislation on triple talaq after apex court verdict: Petition
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday directed the Union government to file its response in four weeks to a PIL petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage), Act, 2019, which declares triple talaq as illegal while prescribing a punishment of up to three years imprisonment for any Muslim husband who uses talaq-e-biddat for divorce.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Mohammad Nawaz passed the order on the petition filed by Mohamed Arif Jameel, a social worker from Bengaluru.
Contending that there was no immediate need for the Union government to enact a law after the Supreme Court declared talaq as illegal, it has been alleged in the petition that the real purpose of the new legislation was not reiterating apex court declaration but prescribing punishment for Muslim husbands.
Claiming that there may have been a few instances of triple talaq despite apex court’s declaration, the Union government lacked any statistics to come to a conclusion that the practice of talaq was unabated despite court’s verdict, the petitioner claimed and said that the apex court verdict does not imply that penal provision has to be immediately enacted to prevent the illegal practice of triple talaq. “Protection of wives cannot be achieved by incarceration of husbands,” the petition contended.
“There is no reasonable or constitutional logic making procedural infirmity in effecting divorce a punishable offence for members of Muslim religion alone,” it has been contended in the petition while arguing that if the object was to protect Muslim women then no reasonable person can believe that such an object can be achieved by sentencing husbands to prison up to three years and making the offence as non-bailable one.
“The offence [of pronouncing talaq] is confined only to Muslim husbands. it is absurd that for an utterance that has no legal effect, whether spoken by Muslim, Hindu or Christian it is only the Muslim husbands who are penalised with three years imprisonment and hence the penal provision restricting it to Muslims is discriminatory and violation of Article 15 of the Constitution of India” it has been contented in the petition while arguing that only Muslims cannot be penalised for illegal act.
The provision to grant bail to Muslim husband accused of using talaq only after the magistrate hears the married Muslim women upon whom talaq is pronounced is contrary to the settled principles of law on grant of bail, it has been argued in the petition while contending that the provisions of the new are also violative of Article 14 (equality before law), Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) and Article 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion).
Feminists Condemn Men’s Remarks about Marrying Kashmiri Women
August 09, 2019
NEW DELHI: Women’s rights advocates have slammed a torrent of online posts by men from across India who expressed enthusiasm about marrying women from held Kashmir after the sudden removal of special rights in the disputed region made it more appealing to do so.
Until this week, residents of Jammu and Kashmir, whose population is majority Muslim, had exclusive rights to property and state government jobs, among other privileges, though women marrying non-residents stood to lose those benefits.
But the constitutional changes put residents and people from elsewhere in India on equal legal footing.
Many women and women’s rights activists condemned the online comments that welcomed the changes for making it easier to marry Kashmiris.
“Its deeply sexist,” said Rituparna Chatterjee, an independent journalist and activist who runs the Twitter handle @indiametoo handle that spotlights the stories of survivors of sexual harassment. “Women’s bodies have been battlegrounds for men for centuries. The latest comments on Kashmiri women are only testimony to this fact.”
Chechnya sends ex-IS women into schools, not jails
August 9, 2019
Mother of five Zalina Gabibulayeva says she was "tricked" into joining the jihadists in Syria five years ago. Now, repentant and repatriated to Russia's Chechnya, she goes into schools to teach others of the dangers of extremism.
Countries around the world are grappling with the question of how to treat citizens who travelled to the Islamic State "caliphate" and have since decided to return.
That problem is felt particularly keenly in Russia, which has seen thousands of people leave to fight alongside jihadists in Syria, according to President Vladimir Putin.
While some Western nations have stripped IS recruits of citizenship or banned them from coming back, Russia has actively repatriated women and children -- though the return of women was suspended more than a year ago over security concerns.
Most of Russia's IS recruits came from Muslim-majority Caucasus republics such as Chechnya, the site of two bloody separatist conflicts with Moscow in the 1990s and now notorious for human rights abuses.
The republic however has welcomed in women like Gabibulayeva -- with the expectation some go to work to prevent young Muslims from becoming radicalised.
"We're useful. We can tell the new generation about what happened to us, so they don't make the same mistakes we did," the 38-year-old says as her two youngest children play on the floor of her flat in regional capital Grozny.
Wearing a leopard-print khimar veil covering her head and body, she describes visiting schools or colleges a couple of times a week across Chechnya and neighbouring republic Ingushetia.
There she tells young people how she fell for propaganda from the Islamic State group before her family moved to the "caliphate" and found "cruelty, horror...it had nothing to do with Islam".
'To show they repent'
Gabibulayeva was already widowed when she went to Syria with her children, but married a Macedonian there after discovering discrimination against women without a husband.
Later the pair tried to escape via Iraq, where he was arrested and she was sent to a refugee camp, from which she was eventually brought back to Russia.
Gabibulayeva moved to Chechnya after receiving a suspended sentence in her native republic of Dagestan.
While using former members of extremist groups in education is not unusual, analysts told AFP this was the first such schools programme they were aware of using returnees from the Islamic State.
"It's very difficult for (the women) to talk about their experience but we get them to understand it's a way to show they repent," says Kheda Saratova, who sits on the rights council of Chechnya's authoritarian leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Saratova -- who manages repatriation efforts with Kadyrov and Moscow's backing -- said young people were turned off by traditional lecturing about the dangers of extremism.
"But when someone appears before them to say in detail how they were radicalised, what they did there, how they managed to escape...they see the real picture, the real face of this terrorist organisation."
In a video from one of the classes, another returnee's voice cracks as she describes the pain she caused her family by going to IS.
"There were special groups who taught children how to fight, they treated it as a game, they taught them how to shoot," the woman tells the class of Grozny teenagers.
Saratova hopes Russian federal authorities will remove their ban on repatriating women from Syria and Iraq. The activist says around 200 women and children have already been brought back, and she is planning a trip to collect more children of Russian families.
"Eventually they will come back to their countries -- especially the children. But in what capacity?" she said.
Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, director of the independent Conflict Analysis and Prevention Centre, said in some ways the initiative was a "showcase" to balance out reports of rights abuses from Chechnya.
At the same time she believes the use of such personal experience "is considered to be one of the most effective ways of trying to ideologically counter terrorism."
"It's not easy to do because usually in democratic states you can't push people to speak -- you have to ask for their consent and most are reluctant to do it" because of psychological difficulties, stigma or personal risk.
Fenna Keijzer of the European Union's Radicalisation Awareness Network said similar education projects in other countries tended to use the experience of people who had been longer out of extremist environments.
Saratova insisted that the five women involved in the programme, which has reached around 600 young people over the last year and is seeking support to continue, took part voluntarily.
But she suggested there was an element of quid pro quo in the arrangement.
"You have to pay for everything in this life," she said.
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